potato crops one use

Plant health authorities have stepped up controls on imports of Spanish potatoes over fears a devastating beetle could be introduced to the UK.

Spain and Portugal are currently suffering an infestation of the epitrix beetle, which damages potatoes and can render whole crops unmarketable. Authorities have intercepted a number of consignments of Spanish potatoes showing epitrix damage, leading to fears the UK could be at risk of importing the bug.

An Animal and Plant Health Authority (AHPA) spokeswoman told The Grocer the pest was “a threat to the UK potato industry as it can have a major impact on the quality of potatoes, particularly through larval feeding holes. The effects of such damage can range from rejection of lots to complete crop loss.”

So far, no live epitrix larvae has been found on imported potatoes, but the AHPA has increased inspections of potatoes from notified areas, and raised the issue at EU level. “The EU Food and Veterinary Office is now assessing whether strengthened EU legislation is needed to prevent further spread of the pest,” the spokeswoman added.